It doesn’t matter how you win. That’s the takeaway from tonight’s 5-4 overtime win over the Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena in Motown. Considering how much of a struggle it was, the Rangers will take the two points and move on.
They earned their NHL best 24th comeback win of the season thanks to some late heroics from Chris Kreider and Andrew Copp. The victory moved them three points ahead of the idle Penguins and within three of first place Carolina.
With 14 games remaining, the Rangers are up to 44-19-5 and 93 points. They still have two home games versus the Hurricanes in April. Both are at home on April 12 and 26. Between that, they got the Islanders on April 1st on Friday at MSG. April Fools’ Day better go better than the last meeting.
Playing for a second straight night in a back-to-back following the emotional rollercoaster win over the Pens, it wasn’t easy versus the Red Wings. To be honest, I expected it. Detroit had an extra day off to stew over an 11-2 drubbing against the Pens. Unsurprisingly, they played much better in the Original Six match-up.
As expected, Gerard Gallant opted to start backup Alex Georgiev for the second time in three games. By resting Igor Shesterkin, it allows them to keep him fresh. Georgiev didn’t have a particularly good game. He allowed four goals on 26 shots. Two of the goals were ones he should’ve had.
At least he made some key stops late to help the team win a third straight game. Maybe we’ll see him on Sunday against the Flyers. However, Gallant might want to give Shesterkin both the Islanders and Flyers to get back into a rhythm. They have next Monday off before paying a visit at the Devils in six days.
Facing a struggling opponent that’s lottery bound, Gallant decided to dress Greg McKegg over Jonny Brodzinski. Not what I would’ve preferred. But Turk is the coach. Maybe he wanted to get the Keg Man back in. He centered the fourth line of Tyler Motte and Ryan Reaves, who seems to rise to the occasion on national TV. He’s now scored all three of his goals on TNT.
On a bit of a broken play, Reaves came away with a loose puck and beat Alex Nedeljkovic from in close for an unassisted goal at 3:23. That gave the Rangers an early lead.
But in a choppy period where they didn’t play well, it was the Red Wings who struck back. On a Taro Hirose forecheck, Michael Rasmussen took a pass and beat Georgiev through the wickets to tie it up at 9:59. His shot went off Jacob Trouba and right through Georgiev, who gave up a bad goal.
There has been a bad trend lately. The penalty kill continues to give up power play goals at an alarming rate. Despite having good personnel, this is an area the coaching staff must fix. Special teams are crucial in the postseason. They allowed the Wings to go 2-for-3 on the man-advantage.
With Copp off for tripping, Detroit cashed in late when Jakub Vrana took a good Moritz Seider feed across and ripped a wrist shot from the right circle past Georgiev with three seconds left in the power play. It was way too easy for Seider to make that diagonal feed to set up Vrana for a 2-1 lead with 2:37 left.
The better part was the immediate response by the Blueshirts. Filip Chytil tipped in a Patrik Nemeth shot for his first goal in 13 games. That came only 11 seconds later to even the score. Braden Schneider picked up a secondary helper giving him points in two straight games.
Considering the recent improvement, Chytil deserved that goal. It’s been a tough year. But his play has picked up. He has a goal and two assists over the last four games. Since Gallant moved Alexis Lafreniere back down with Barclay Goodrow, the third line has been more noticeable. They’re doing a good job creating chances off the cycle.
It also was Lafreniere who won the offensive draw back to Schneider to help set up Chytil’s seventh. Even though he didn’t pick up a point, the big face-off win allowed them to tie the score. A well executed face-off play.
Whenever Kaapo Kakko returns, I’m not sure I’d change that line. He might find it hard to crack the lineup. It all depends on if he’s back to full strength. The current lines are going well.
That’s without Ryan Strome, who missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury. Maybe Kakko can replace Dryden Hunt. But Hunt adds grit and is a good fit on the bottom line. Right now, he’s on the second line until Strome returns.
With only seven seconds remaining in the first, McKegg took an unnecessary tripping minor to hand the Red Wings their second power play. Once the teams returned for the second period, Detroit only took 29 seconds to go back ahead.
On another smart read from Seider after receiving a Lucas Raymond pass, he drew everyone to one side before finding a rotating Tyler Bertuzzi up top. Bertuzzi had time and space to fire a slap shot by Georgiev blocker side for his 26th. Georgiev wasn’t screened on the play. He just didn’t challenge enough.
It was still another blown assignment by the penalty killers. These follies can’t continue. What’s that now? Nine of the last 10 games an opponent has scored on the power play. They have to do a better job. Tighten it up.
With a secondary assist, that gave Raymond 30. He also has 20 goals which means the rookie is up to 50 points. That allowed him to become the first Red Wing rookie to record 20 goals and 30 assists in a season since the legendary Sergei Fedorov. Can you believe the Red Wings still haven’t retired number 91? Wow.
The Rangers again came back to tie it up later in the period. Before they did, an extended shift where Kreider was out with the fourth line had the Wings pinned in. But a terrific defensive play from Seider a minute in a half into his shift got them out of trouble. He was able to take away the puck from Kreider. Not easy to do.
Following that shift, out came Artemi Panarin with Zibanejad and Frank Vatrano. He made the most of it. On some sustained pressure by Vatrano behind the net, he was able to center for a Panarin one-timer that beat Nedeljkovic far side with 7:45 left in the second. His 18th goal.
If he thinks shot more, that makes the Bread Man more dangerous. With two more helpers tonight, he’s up to 62. That gives him 80 points. Imagine if Panarin shoots more. A scary thought considering it hasn’t been his best season.
On the next shift, Nedeljkovic was able to deny a Copp backhand. On the opposite end, Georgiev stopped Danny DeKeyser from long distance. Raymond had a better chance, but sent his shot wide.
Jacob Trouba delivered one of his big open ice hits when he leveled Rasmussen. Another clean check. This time, there was no retaliation. Just the Red Wings going back at Trouba when they could. That’s hockey.
Off a good rush, Lafreniere skated into open space and fired a wrist shot wide. It was a good opportunity. Hit the net and maybe he scores. His confidence is growing. We’re seeing him carry the puck more and get off that shot. A positive.
After a stoppage, it was an aggressive Lafreniere who forced Gustav Lindstrom to hook into him. That gave the Rangers their first power play. That it came with 2:22 remaining in the second isn’t a good look. Neither was the five-on-four.
They got one chance early. Zibanejad was unable to lift the puck in tight to beat Nedeljkovic, who made the save. That kept it tied at three headed to the third period.
If you were looking for a better third, it didn’t happen right away. Instead, the Red Wings again re-took the lead thanks to a face-off play. Pius Suter beat Zibanejad to get the puck back to Marc Staal. The former Ranger was able to fire a shot that took a Detroit bounce right to Adam Erne, who fired a backhand off Adam Fox past a frustrated Georgiev at 5:56.
For a while, it looked like they’d come up empty against a bad team. Lafreniere took a tripping minor to put the Wings back on the power play. Thankfully, the penalty kill finally got the job done. That gave them a chance to come back.
One thing we know is this team doesn’t give up. No matter how they’re playing, they usually find a way. That’s exactly what they did on Wednesday night.
A little after Nedeljkovic stopped Kreider twice, Lindstrom took down Hunt. That would prove to be the turning point. On the man-advantage for a second time, Zibanejad tried a set play for a Kreider deflection at the side of the net. But Nedeljkovic gloved it.
However, the combination of Fox and Panarin worked the puck down low for Kreider. Looking back door, he had his pass bank in off Seider past Nedeljkovic for his 46th goal to tie the score at four with 3:38 remaining.
The power play goal was number 24 for Kreider. He tied Jaromir Jagr’s franchise mark for a single season set in ’05-06. He’s now four away from the 50 Goal Club. There are 14 games left. It would be great if Kreider joined the Rangers’ exclusive list that includes Vic Hadfield, Adam Graves and Jagr.
On another shift spent on the top line, Panarin received a Zibanejad pass in perfect shooting position. Instead of one-timing it, he opted to pass for Vatrano, whose shot was stopped by Nedeljkovic. That is one Panarin has to shoot. He had the better scoring opportunity.
With under a minute left, Chytil had a nice rush and got off a tough backhand that Nedeljkovic handled. He’s more confident with the puck. A good sign. Maybe they made a wise decision not moving him. Especially if the third line continues to perform. Secondary scoring is going to be needed.
The game would need overtime. During the three-on-three, the Red Wings had the first couple of chances to end it. But on a night that he struggled, Georgiev twice denied Bertuzzi to come up large.
Finally, Copp won a defensive draw back to Panarin. He then let the Bread Man work his magic. Copp then lost Bertuzzi in coverage. As Panarin flew down the right wing, he made a bullet pass for Copp that he sniped over the right pad of Nedeljkovic for the overtime winner at 1:34.
Copp called game. He now is up to seven points (2-5-7) in five games. The guy I was pushing for has fit in perfectly. He can play anywhere and makes things happen. Without Strome, he’s centering the second line and they’re not missing a beat.
The 42 points (15-27-42) are a new career high between the Jets and Rangers. He’s increasing his value. What a pickup by
Derek Felix Chris Drury! It’s not often I get it right. I’ve watched the good Copp for a while. He makes a difference.
Onto Friday. The Islanders are back in town for another game at The Garden. Last time out, they got the late goal to win a goalie duel in regulation. Needless to say, every game matters. The Rangers will have to play better to get the win.
Battle Of Hudson Three Stars 🌟 🤩 ✨️
3rd 🌟 Moritz Seider Red Wings 2 primary assists, 2 takeaways, 3 blocks, +1 in team high 23:44, deserves the Calder
2nd 🌟 Andrew Copp NYR scored OT winner (2nd as a Ranger), 5 SOG, 9-and-6 on draws, +2 in 17:37
1st 🌟 Artemi Panarin NYR goal (18) plus 2 assists (61, 62), +3 in 17:50